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IACC & PKF release “Trends® in the Conference Center Industry 2014”

International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) has released the 2014 Edition of "Trends® in the Conference Center Industry." According to IACC CEO Mark Cooper, "The comprehensive trends report indicates that IACC Conference Centres once again see continued recovery in their rates which are higher than 2013."

Cooper continued, "This, coupled with marginal improvements in operating profits,  demonstrates that IACC member properties continue to control costs and manage another year of improving occupancies.  Conference Centres -- when benchmarked against hotels -- are showing restraint in hiking prices to their customers, which shows a long-term approach and commitment to their customers."  

Cooper also notes that IACC members predicted a 'bumpy ride' for 2014 operating budgets, and they might well prove to be accurate in their predictions given the last few months of mixed economic forecasts for North America.  "With the economy experiencing some set-backs, said Cooper, "a large part of conference centres' business is realised from training."   

According to the report, the greatest percentage of meetings (57.8%) held at residential conference centres were Training / Continuing Education sessions followed by Management Planning conferences. "It is encouraging to see the significant growth in this type of events as organisations invest now to put in place a skilled workforce to cope with further recovery" said Cooper.  

Corporate Centres achieved the greatest increase in Average Daily Rate in 2013 showing a 2.9% increase in All Centres over 2012 with Executive and Resort Centres seeing the highest ADR.  

Executive and Resort Centres continued to achieve greater levels of total RevPOR compared to their comparable hotel property type, while corporate centres experienced the greatest increase in RevPOR from 2012 to 2013.   

Resort Centres achieved the highest occupancy rate in 2013, while college and university centres enjoyed the greatest gain in occupancy during 2013.  

In 2013, Executive and Resort Centres achieved lower levels of occupancy than their comparable hotel property type, but enjoyed greater over-the-year growth in occupancy from 2012 to 2013.   

The report, compiled by PKF Hospitality Research on behalf of IACC, showed encouraging signs that Executive Conference Centres are experiencing overall rebound which has taken place in revenues and profitability for most of the members reporting.  This is consistent with a recovery in the meeting market in general, which has been a long time coming.  

Dave Arnold, Co-President and Chief Executive Officer-East with PKF Consulting USA, LLC commented. " With the reality of very little supply growth and demand growth in the five to seven percent range, the foreseeable future bodes well for the health of the conference centre industry."  

"Certain challenges remain at the forefront", said Arnold, "including a continuing erosion of the CMP to various “modified” meeting packages, a continuing push by asset managers/owners to diversify the market base with non-conference business and dealing with on-line travel agency bookings which heretofore have had only a limited impact on group bookings.  On the good news front, the market is showing an increased desire for independent, non-chain properties which, of course, has always been a strength of the conference centre industry."

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